I noticed a few new younger opal miners this year…not just the usual baby boomer miners in the 55 to 70 year old age group. And opal prices in Coober Pedy were just as high as last year, if not a bit higher. There was much less top gem material then in previous years and the prices of the very top grades of precious opal was unrealistically high. Although I did see a fair bit of very nice gem grade opal around from my usual group of opal miners the top grades I’d commonly seen in previous years were scarce .
There must be a fair amount of mining going on at Zorba, Opal Valley and Olympic opalfields as I saw quite a few parcels from those rough opal locations. The field that was producing the most opal was Olympic opalfield (or perhaps Olympic Extension) which was welcome indeed. I love the stable, colorful, crystal from Olympic…it’s my favorite field to buy opal from.
The fields that supply most of the rough opal that comes out of Coober Pedy are:
- Near town: Olympic, Olympic Extension, Southern Cross, 5 Mile, South Pacific, East Pacific, Jasper, Lennon, Geraghty Hill, Larkin’s Folly, Emu, Turkey Ridge, Zorba, Hellenic Hill, Russo’s Folly, Jupiter, Venus, Willow, Black Flag, Russo’s Folly, Quail and Benitos Folly.
- Then as you go north along the Start Highway and the Stuart Range: Digger Gully, Old Four Mile, Hans Peak, Greek Gully, Dora Gully, Fourteen Mile, Seventeen Mile, John Deere, Vino, Whisky, Shell Patch and Dingo.
- There are a few isolated fields west of Coober Pedy: Saturn, mars, Dead Horse Gully, Dead Man’s Gully, Halley’s Comet, Frank’s Folly, Brown’s Folly, Kimba, John’s Rush and Yellow Bullock. I’ve hoped to see more exploration and new opalfield discoveries around these isolated fields similar to the Donna’s Rush Opalfield discovery in 2011 discovered by miners John Dunston and Paul Reynolds but I do expect that someday we will hear news of a new opalfield and a new “opal rush” in Coober Pedy.
I love the names of the Coober Pedy opalfields! I’ve tried to explore some the opalfields on my various trips, but it’s so very easy to get lost on the flat opalfields…no signs and few landmarks. So other than a few excursions I’ve mostly stayed out of the opalfields themselves. The opalfields are a dangerous place and many people have been injured or killed by falling into an unmarked hole…there are thousands of them.
For those of you who might be interested in seeing a very detailed map of The Coober Pedy Precious Stones Field (the various Coober Pedy opalfields) produced by the Geological Survey of South Australia…here you go: Coober Pedy Opalfields Map .
With the help of the above map and Google Maps you should be able to see a nice aerial view of the Coober Pedy Opalfields and be able to identify the actual opalfields, from the South Australian maps, on Google Maps in the comfort of your home.